Monday, December 26, 2016

A trip North

After the cold blast that hit Iowa last weekend, the ice has been growing quit nicely.  Reports of 6-12 inches of ice in Northern Iowa sent my friend Jacy and I on a trip before the Christmas holiday to that area.  Clear Lake was the destination, and the turnout was fantastic.  Clear Lake, Iowa is not only a great little town to stay in, it offers quite the variety of fish to chase after.  After doing some Internet searches and talking with friends we made a plan to hit several lakes in this area.  The number of lakes within a 30 minute drive of Clear Lake is pretty amazing.  It gives an angler ample opportunities to catch whatever species they desire.  In the two days of fishing our Vexilars were lit up quite often, we caught the following species; perch, yellow bass, crappies, bluegills, walleyes and bullheads.  The Bullheads were quite a surprise, as each time we thought we had a nice perch on, but the smooth-skin slimer came through the hole instead.  Beside the snow storm we fished through on Friday, leaving us soaking wet, it was a great few days in the Clear Lake area.  If you haven't been to Clear Lake lately, plan a trip.  Clear Lake Bait and Tackle is the place to stop for all your needs, live bait, shack rental, and guided trips for a variety of species.  Kevan Paul will help make your stop to Clear Lake a great one if you don't know the area.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Fall to Winter

I have lived my 4 decades in Iowa, yet each and every year Mother Nature makes it feel different this time of year.  A year ago, there was no ice in site in this great state, however this last weekend many anglers, especially in the northern half of the state made their annual pilgrimage to the ice.  I was eager like many, but I am always very cautious this time of year.  This year there will be plenty of ice by the holidays, last year I had to travel to South Dakota to find some ice to scratch the ice fishing itch.  Not this year, Mother Nature has been kind, and I love the 10 day forecast!!!

Be safe out there and be sure to take the proper safety materials with you each and every time on the ice:
Buddy System~~~Rope~~~Flotation Device~~~Ice Picks

First Ice: December 11th

Last open water fish: November 26th

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Time to Brush-Up on what your VEXILAR is telling you

Fall wasn't here long in Iowa, and I sure hope that winter shows up quickly.  Neighboring states are on the ice or getting very close as I publish this.  Iowa ice anglers, our turn will be next.  It is time to get the gear ready and brush-up on our electronics that will help us this ice season.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to present a seminar at the new Clear Lake Bait and Tackle shop representing Vexilar.  At this event I presented to about 60 anxious ice anglers trying to gather as much information as they could to help them land a few extra fish this upcoming ice fishing season.  Each and every time I present tips and tricks about using a Vexilar to its fullest, I see the same "ah-ha" looks in the crowd.  I want to pass along the biggest items that anglers at my seminars learn from so you too can learn and catch more fish using your Vexilar.


As ice anglers we choose to use electronics to help us tell us many things.  In this illustration we can see a Vexilar read-out with the bottom being at about 12 feet.  We also see that our jig is at the 10 foot level in the water column.  The part that is the most important is the green line showing us a fish is below us.  Remember, green and yellow lines are signals that are away from the center of the signal from the Vexilar transducer.  So, the fish signal shows up at about 11 feet of water, but as we can see in the picture the fish is actually swimming at 10 feet.  This illustration shows/reminds us that we always need to fish above any green or yellow mark on the Vexilar.  If you need more information about this picture or tip, just drop me an email.  I will also be at Hank's Bait and Tackle Ice Fishing Open House November 30th.  

Photo Credit:

Monday, November 21, 2016

Fall river fishlng

As November fades away, so does another season.  Fall has come and gone but it wasn't without some fantastic river fishing.  Largemouth started the fall season, but when the calendar turned to November, the smallmouth showed up and they were plentiful.  Depending on the current of the river and the weather for the day smallmouth found there way into the boat time after time.  The Hot Rod Baits tubes were fantastic and when the weather wasn't the best, small finesse worms fooled the smallies.  It was a blast sharing the Ranger and the small jon boat on the river with family and friends.

As Thanksgiving approaches my attention has once again turned towards ice fishing.  I'm not saying that all my Quantum rods and reels are put away, but the time is certainly right around the corner for just that.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Late October Fishing

Fall is in full force, and so is the fall bite for bass.  Like clockwork each year as the water cools, the rivers around the Midwest heat up!  I have shared time at the Mississippi River and Wapsipinicon River this last month and I wouldn't have it any other way.  Whether it was a quick couple hours after work, or an entire afternoon, these rivers have not disappointed once.  This past weekend I have the privilege to hit the Wapsi on Saturday for a little while and targeted smallmouth bass.  They have been hitting well and hanging near the current seams.  Spinnerbaits, and Texas rigged tubes have worked really well all month long.  It was no different for these smallies today.  Fish after fish came aboard the boat on this beautiful day, it isn't often you can fish in a t-shirt on October 29th.

The following day on the Wapsi I hooked up the jon boat and went in search of largemouth bass.  I never caught one the previous day, and I figured the smaller boat would get me into some backwaters to search out the green bass.  I used the same exact 2 Quantum PT combos from the previous smallmouth trip, but today it was all green bass.  It was so typical of fall river fishing.  Get out of the current, but close to it and you will find largemough bass.  Today though, the largemouth bass were really wanting the Hot Rod Baits tube, they wouldn't chase the spinnerbait like their smallmouth cousins did the day before.  I never caught a smallmouth all day long, totally different habitat was focused on, which led to totally different fish living there.  One day hooking smallmouth bass, the next hooking largemouth bass, river is simply the BEST!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Small Rivers are shining

October is one of those months that brings mixed emotions for anglers around the Midwest.  While a lot of guys have changed their rods/reels in for shotguns and shells, October remains one of my favorite times to fish.  I keep the Quantum Rods/reels at the ready when my schedule allows to hit the water for a few hours.  October brings less boaters, clean water and actively feeding fish.  With a recent purchase of jonboat, and the Wapsi only a few minutes away from my house, this month has been a great month to catch bass on this interior river.  While the jonboat doesn't have all the bells and whistles of my bass boat, the biggest thing I miss are the Talons, however this jonboat allows me to venture anywhere on the wapsi and get to places that a fiberglass bass boat cannot.  Keith Donnelly and I took a trip this afternoon to go on the river to see what we could find.  We found some active smallies and largemouth hitting a variety of baits; spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and Hot Rod Baits tubes.  Today, for the first day of this month, slower baits produced more bass than the fast bait presentations.  I am pretty sure the high pressure had something to do with this.  It was a fantastic day to be on the river, shorts, short sleeves and catching bass in doesn't get any better than that!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Mississippi River in October

One of only two keeper smallmouth
in two days of fishing
There is no doubt that I have been looking forward to October for quite some time.  This summer was an extremely busy one for me, which increased my eagerness for the fall weather to show up.  October also means that the rivers get a jolt of energy and the bass fishing takes off.  I rarely turn down a time to fish a river system, and this time of year I cannot get enough.
This past weekend I was joined by Don Henry for a weekend trip to Pool 9 of the Upper Mississippi.  Don also enjoys the river and was looking forward to our, what now has become a tradition, to fish the river in October.  I have said for many years, that this is the best month to fish the river for sheer numbers of bass and the amount of keepers an angler can catch in a day.  Don and I eagerly drove north to find a much cleaner river than it was a couple short weeks ago.  With the cleaner water, much cooler water and less current there were plenty of bass to keep us busy.
We hit several areas, main channel, sloughs with current and backwaters without current, all had bass biting, but locating the current with "medium" current was the key on this weekend.  As usual, any rocky structure held bass when current was present.  What amazed me the most this weekend, was the bass were very particular on what baits they were going to bite on.  They wanted something slow.  Craws, small jigs, sticks, and especially tubes from Hot Rod Baits did the most damage.  We caught a few on swim jigs, and crankbaits, but not very many.  Dozens and dozens of bass came aboard each day on slower presentations, and on Saturday we were able to catch some nice largemouth bass nearing that 3# mark.  It was great catching high numbers of bass, and having a few big ones tossed in the mix as well.  With the river being up about 3 feet, current was easy to find, almost difficult to get out of.  We didn't struggle with it at any time over the two days, with the Minn Kota Fortrex 101 on the bow and Minn Kota Talons on the back of the boat, fishing was easy.  A quality trolling motor with lasting power and ability to anchor down in current really allows a angler to enjoy fishing, nature and not have to worry about batteries or moving through fishing areas too quickly.  Two great tools that every boat deserves.
I just got back from the big river, but I can't wait to get there again...yes, I'm addicted!

Chilly mornings on the Mississippi
are rewarded with a HOT bite for bass

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Quantum Fishing's NEW reel

I have had the chance to use the latest reel made by Quantum fishing for the past few months.  The SMOKE HD is a baitcasting reel specifically made for heavy duty fishing.  Quantum wasn't going to release it until later this fall, but the bass touring pros just had to have it and thus they sped up the deadline.  Once the pros got this reel in their hands, they just had to more of them.  It is available in 3 different gear ratios and can hold up 180 yards of line.  This is important because the more full your reel is the more line you can gain from each turn of the handle.  The 7.3:1 gear ratio reel can bring in 31 inches of line per rotation of the reel.  Everything about this reel is smooth, and solid, and I really like the new handle that Quantum has added on this model.  It is slightly longer than previous handles and has over-sized handle grips.  It features the tension knob, and the ACS externally-adjustable cast control dial for fine tuning the reel and weighs less than 7 ounces.  This reel is one that you will want to add to your arsenal!  Click on over to the Quantum website to see more details and some short videos by professional anglers.
The NEW Quantum SMOKE HD is an
awesome reel for a variety of fishing presentations.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Last Tournament of the year

This past weekend I participated in the long awaited end of the season tournament held by the Tri-County Bass Club.  It wasn't just the fishing, or my area to fish, Pool was the company that I knew I would be hanging around with for the weekend.  Since moving out of Marshalltown I see less and less of those friends/club members and this tournament would once again bring us together.  It was nice to meet up with them once again and share a meal and swap some fishing stories.  However the tournament did take center stage Saturday morning and it was a great day to fish.  Air temperatures in the 70's and water temps in the low 60's, however Mother Nature rose the river over 2 feet in less than 2 days prior to the event.  Pool 9 looked like the Hershey's factory had leaked into it.

In my 20+ years of fishing the Mississippi River I have never seen areas of the river as muddy as it was this past weekend.  Thursday evening the river rose 12 inches in less than 12 hours...that is an unreal amount of water in such a small amount of time, thus causing the river to turn into what looked like chocolate milk.  My partner and I searched the northern part of Pool 9 the entire day on Saturday, not one bite...this was the first time in my life I believe to not even get a bite while fishing for an entire day.  Frustrating didn't even describe my feelings.  After talking with friends, I regrouped and decided to head to Pool 10 for Sunday's action, I just couldn't stay in pool 9 and beat my head in again.  The 30-mile trip to Pool 10 was worth it in the end.  It was a relief to find some cleaner water and put the Quantum PT rods and reels to work.  I caught every fish on Sunday using the GreenPumpkin/Blue tube from Hot Rod Baits.  The bass were liking it, around a dozen or so in total, and I even managed to flip 3 keepers in the boat before heading back to the weigh-in.  Just like all year long, the Minn Kota TALONS kept me in place and helped me to catch more fish.  The shallow water anchors continue to impress me, and each angler that gets to see them in action first hand.  Those three keepers ended up catching me 3rd place and a sense of satisfaction after a disastrous day on Saturday.  It ended up being a great weekend on the river, partly due to those 3 green fish I caught on Sunday, but mostly being the outdoors in a beautiful part of the state and catching up with the Marshalltown boys.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Hot Rod Baits Bass Series Final Event of 2016

This past weekend was the finale of the Hot Rod Baits Bass Series.  This series consists of 3 events scattered throughout Iowa to test tournament anglers against each other.  The Series is an "all or nothing" series where anglers pay upfront for all 3 events securing the field of anglers before the first event.  It creates a club type of atmosphere which most guys really enjoy.  While we are all after the top prize at each event many anglers share knowledge, baits and ideas with each other, making the experience even more valuable to participants.
This year, Brian Bowles joined me once again on the series and we had a great time.  We had a top 5 at Little River Lake, an event to forget at Belva Deer, and finished in the middle of the pack at Pool 9.  The last event was one that we looked forward to all year.  We both love to fish the Mississippi River and we tend to catch them pretty good up there.  We had two days to practice and we covered a lot of water during those times.  The river high and the current was swift, but after 10 hours of fishing the current each day, we were worn out, but my boat was still ready for more thanks to the Minn Kota Fortrex 101 and Talons.  These two pieces of equipment on the boat are so valuable when fishing, especially in current.  We were able to hold in the main channel current while searching for smallies and saved our batteries while the Talons were anchoring us down.  Both make fishing much easier and more enjoyable.
We fished many different areas throughout Pool 9, but really focused in on areas with a lot of current.  Anytime we fished current we saw minnows and shad, so this told us that bass would be close by.  After those two practice days, we figured we had enough good places to compete in the tournament, however knew we would be short on the bigger fish to vault us to the top.  We tried many baits on our Quantum Rods and Reels, but the best were jigs with large chunks and Hot Rod Baits Big Craws.  We finished out the event in 7th place, which was less than 2 pounds from 3rd place, and were disappointed.  However, after dozens of largemouth and smallmouth bass caught, many laughs, a few stories to pass the slow times and some fantastic Mississippi River Scenery, nothing was lost on this three day adventure with a good friend!  Can't wait to see what this series has to offer in 2017!

Full Results of event HERE

Sunday, July 10, 2016

2016 Brushy Creek 4-Man Tournament

For the past 12 years the Tri-County Bass Club has hosted a 4-man bass tournament at Brushy Creek.  This was an idea I had back in 2005 when I saw the neighboring state of Minnesota conducting similar events.  I am always willing to try different things, and the idea has caught on, this year it brought anglers from Nebraska, Missouri and Texas.  This is one of the biggest tournaments of the entire year at Brushy Creek each and every year.  I, along with the Tri-County Bass Club are pretty proud of that fact.  Needless to say a lot of planning goes into an event like this before the event takes place.  I would like to publicly thank Don Henry for the hours of work behind the scene he does each year, Zach Maxfield and Doug Chaloupek for helping each year with boat inspections and weigh-ins, and finally Dennis Meyer who did a fantastic job at being the weigh master at this years event.  As a group we make sure every angler that enters these events has a fair and equal shot at collecting prize money.  Speaking of that, this club fundraiser pays out over 80% each year back to the participants for their great catches.

The team I participate on each year has stayed constant that past several years; Doug Chaloupek, Dave Jordan, Don Henry and myself, all from Marshalltown.  However, this year Dave Jordan had to sit things out as he fights an illness, so Zach Maxfield stepped in for him.  We have a great time with each other, and even though we are there to "work" the event we don't let that get in the way of fishing too much.  As a group this year we caught 7 keeper bass, Don and Doug had a couple bass as they fished right up to the last few minutes of the event.  Zach and I managed a limit and culled a couple to bring in 14.95#.  Zach and I both love throwing our Quantum PT rods and reels and today, they performed flawlessly once again.  We caught our two biggest bass on an Optimum Baits Furbit Frog in a key area of grass.  Two bites was all, but those two bites turned into about 8 pounds of bass!  Other bass that day fell to the Hot Rod Baits "Jelly" Stickbait.  As a 4-Man team we weighed 18.74 pounds for our 7 keepers, this put us in 7th place our of 16 teams.  Not what we had hoped for, but all in all it was a great day of fishing, and the tournament, with the help of many club volunteers went off without a hitch!   Full results can be found here: Tri-County Bass Club

Brushy Creek Lake limit of 14.95#, 4.51 big bass

Monday, June 27, 2016

Wednesday Night fun

The Wednesday Fishing League (WFL) was started many years ago to gather friends at local lakes on a weekday to have some fun and compete in a friendly bass tournament.  I created these events well over a decade ago and have created and made many friendships through them.  In the past 6, 7 or 8 years (time flies when you have fun) my same partner for these events has been Don Henry.  We have had a lot of good times, our fair share of successes and head-scratching nights too.  No matter what mood the bass are in on that particular night, we make the most of it and have a good time.  This past Wednesday was no different, except we both know that our fishing time together at these events are about to end.
With my upcoming move to Independence I will be stepping aside or course, but the times spent with Don, talking about everything under the sun and catching a few bass will always be remembered.  This past Wednesday was fantastic, we figured out the bass that night at Rock Creek Lake.  Presenting Hot Rod Baits tubes and big craws with a 1/8oz sinker was the ticket.  Fish were located much more shallow than we had figured, but the ones we caught were stuffed with food in their big bellies telling us we found feeding fish.  We ended up with 4 keepers that night, which told us we figured out the bass.  Typically when you can do this in a 3 hour tournament you will place high, that night was a win for us on so many levels!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Summer Time VEXILAR

This past week I had the chance to fish with my two best fishing kids.  We took our annual 3-day trip to fish for bluegills and enjoy nature.  Enjoying nature is never a hard thing to do, as both of our kids are under 10 years old and are very inquisitive.  They loved being outdoors, and they love to fish even more.
Bluegills were the target on this small 40 acre lake in Tama County.  It is rather deep, up to 20+ feet in several areas.  I knew the bluegills had to be close to ending the spawning routine, so I had a hunch they would be out deeper...enter the summer edition of the Vexilar.  Many anglers put their Vexilars away once the ice melts, and every year I tell them that it is a mistake.  I have installed the FL-10 on the bow of my boat, it is always there and ready to show me the fish.  Installing this was very easy, as it is a flush mounting system and the FL-10 package comes with everything you need to install it on your boat.

Cruising throughout the lake I saw the familiar red lines on the Vexilar and I knew exactly what we needed to do.  Suspending bluegills on slip bobbers is pretty fun, and my kids had a blast.  Most of the fish we caught were in about 10-12 feet of water, and the gills were hanging around the 6 foot mark.  It became as simple as; find suspending fish, drop the Talons, and cast the slip bobbers.  We had a great time catching bluegills and the occasional largemouth bass too.
Another great trip with the kids, thanks to the Vexilar FL-10.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Spawn or not?

May can be a tricky time of year in Iowa for bass.  Other than October, it is my favorite month to bass though, as most days are good for fish catches.  However, there are weeks where the bass are not in the mood to biting, especially the larger bass.  They have something more important on their minds, the annual spawn.  It is important to know where the bass are on the spawn schedule during this month and early June.  As I looked forward to the day of fishing, I assume that bass would be up shallow spawning or done.  I hoped to get a good picture of spawning activity to start the day.  I wish I could say I know what the bass were doing...but I can't.  I think they are finished at this lake, but I'm not really sure, as I didn't catch any larger fish off-shore, a sure clue that the spawn is over.  Either way, dozens of bass found their way in the boat on a variety of baits, but one was KEY on this day...

A morning trip to Hawthorne Lake yesterday was necessary to get a little "water therapy" in.  Getting up extra early this time of year is something I like to do, I love top water fishing, so I was on the road before the sun was up.  This was a the topwater bite was non-existent on this particular day.  After 4 fish made a swirl behind my buzzbait, I put that rod away for the day.  I picked up an Optimum Baits Swimbait, which I twitched just under the surface and the bass loved it!  The first couple of hours was as good of a swimbait bite I've had in years.  I was rigging the Optimum Baits 5-inch Victory tail on a 4/O wide gap hook.  No sinker is necessary when throwing these small baits as they are heavy to make casting a breeze, even on 50# braided line.  A wide-gap hook is important when throwing swimbaits, it will allow you to hook up on many more fish.  I was throwing this rig on a 7-foot Med/Hvy Smoke combo from Quantum.  This in one deadly combination.  This bait worked well in the morning on rocky banks as well as the shoreline covered with weed growth.  If you have fished a swimbait before, you know how exciting they can be.  Most of the fish I caught on this bait I could visually see them come out of the weeds and strike the bait.  There is no better rush than to watch that a couple dozen times in a morning!
Many baits worked well this day on the water, jig, big craws, finesse worms, and crankbaits all caught fish, however slowing down in the shallow water with a swimbait was the key bait on this day for me.
Lake Conditions: Water temp: around 74-degrees, most of the lake had about 1-foot of clarity.  Bluegills were on beds, most all bass caught shallow.    

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Unique Buzzbait worth a look

I am honored to work with some great fishing companies.  One of these companies is Optimum Baits.  This company owns several smaller companies all specializing in certain types of fishing baits.  It's a one stop place for all your bass bait needs.  One unique product that was able to give a good testing last year was the Kahara Buzzy Frog.  This combines two ideas, a topwater frog, and a buzzbait.  Putting these two different baits together for a bait that bass have not seen.  The other night while out fishing the water temp was over 60 degrees, even though the bite had been tough all night I decided to give the fish something different to look at.  I got the Kahara Buzz Bait out and hooked up two fish on two bites in a short amount of time.  The hooks appear small at first glance, but the hook-up ratio on this bait is as good or better than a traditional buzzbait.

A few things about this bait that make it a great tool:
~ great color choices
~ durable, have caught dozens of bass on it and no sign of wear or tear
~ two hooks to keep fish buttoned up (wide gap double 2/O)
~ "in-line" design with a big blade
~ rides high in the water
~ solid frog body allows for long casts (weighs 3/4oz)
~ no need for a trailer, rubber skirt is secure on the back
~ goes through and around weeds
~ AWESOME around wood, it does not turn over like traditional baits, just stays upright

This bait is truly unique, something that Optimum Baits does a great job with.  They were the company that made the original swimbaits, they know how to revolutionize your tackle box.  They think out of the box and allow anglers to keep giving bass something fresh to look at, which is vital to angler success when fishing pressured waters.  Pick one up at their website or the next time you purchase items, you won't be disappointed.  Better yet, if you see me on the water I will toss you one to try, then I know will purchase a couple!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Hot Rod Baits Bass Series Event #1

Brian with a 5.5 pounder
on practice day
The Hot Rods Baits Bass Series kicked off this past Saturday at Little River Lake in Southwest Iowa.  This series consists of 3 events and is an "all or nothing" format.  Teams must pay for all three events before they even cast a line at the first tournament.  This takes commitment by team members and sets up the same competition all year long for the Team of the Year prizes.  Each event, members accumulate points on their finishes and amount of keepers they catch.  After the 3 events the top three teams will win cash prizes.  Brian Bowles and I have teamed up once again this year, hoping to push towards the top by the end of the year, and have a lot of fun along the way.
I was able to look the lake over the previous weekend due to another tournament I was participating in.  This allowed me to take a look at the lake, one that I haven't seen for about 15 years.  Needless to say I didn't remember much about the lake, and fishing has changed so much in the last 15 years I was starting over.  With water temperatures hanging around 60 degrees the bass were feeding and allowed me to put some pieces together.
On practice day Brian and I dissected the lake piece by piece, shallow water, deep water, rocks, wood, coves, main lake, and channel drops.  We found fish in a lot of different places, and the fish were feeding.  When this occurs it is fun, however it is hard to fine tune a game plan.  Along with the task of planning for the Saturday tournament, a major weather swing was coming to the area.  Winds were steady and from the north all day on Friday, and then the high pressure and southern wind started the night before the tournament.  We figured this would change the attitude of the bass, and it sure did.
Tournament day came on Saturday and we found about a third of the bites we did on Friday and the larger bass, those weighing over 2.5 pounds, seemed to disappear from us.  The forecasters actually had things right for once, winds out of the south up to 20 mph.  The combination of the Minn Kota 101 Fortrex and Talons put us at ease with the wind.  There is no need to shy away from days like this with the use of these tools.  They really make fishing comfortable in almost any weather situation.  We spent every minute of the 8 hour tournament working over our Quantum rods and reels looking for six keepers.  Brian ended up with the first one on a Texas-rigged craw bait, I hooked the next on a Hot Rod Baits tube.  We caught both in areas of coves that we caught keepers the day before.  Finally, we connected on two deep crankbait bass that made their way into the livewell.  We ended the day with 4 keepers and had our chins held high after a long hard day of fishing.  The weigh-in got started and anglers started reporting a rough day of fishing.  Things were tough for most teams, and that put our 4 keepers in 5th place at the end of the day.  All in all, it is a great start for us on the Hot Rod Baits Bass Series, next up is Lake Belva Deer in May.

Full results of the tournament are HERE

As a competitor and tournament director of the
Hot Rod Baits Bass Series, it was a very busy weekend.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Little River Lake Club tournament

This past weekend I spent both days on Little River Lake near Leon, IA.  This is a lake I haven't seen in about 15 years.  The DNR recently remodeled this lake and the fish populations are booming.  I don't say this too much, but the bass are over populated.  It was amazing how many bass I caught in two days, and add in all the other bass my club members caught, the population is huge!  That is good thing, however this particular weekend the population had many anglers shaking their head because the keeper bass over 15 inches were few and far between.
To say the least, fishing was fun, but at the same time frustrating.  It is hard to catch 30 plus bass and not catch a keeper.  A lot of anglers even reported catching more than that without a keeper.  Of course, as tournaments go someone will find the keepers and bring them to the scales.  This is one thing I enjoy about tournaments, no matter how bad or how good you think you did that day, a tournament really let's you know how did against other bass anglers.  This is one of the big reasons I fish tournaments, to measure up against others to really see how I did.  Some days one keeper is great, while others 10 keepers is great, fishing a tournament tells you that and you can see how you did.
Practice day found me driving to a lot of different parts of the lake checking things out.  Water clarity can help me focus things in this time year more than anything.  Water temperature is always on the forefront as I look around in April too.  I spent some time graphing and charting the lake with StructureScan too, which is something that I am getting more used to using to search our structure.  While fishing, I tried many techniques on Saturday trying to find a key bait that would lead to a few keepers.  This was a bust, as I didn't catch a single keeper.  Dozens of bass were caught that day, but nothing of good size, again, the lake is full of 13-14 inch bass, it's FUN!  However, as I sat at the motel that night preparing rods for the next day I decided to go with the basics and fish as hard as I could during the tournament with what I learned on Saturday.  Key baits I tied on were a jig, a River Green/Pumpkin Blue Hot Rod Baits tube, a chatterbait and a shallow crankbait.  I was going to sink or swim with these baits during the tournament.
Tournament day was another windy day and fish after fish were caught.  I am totally enthused to have Minn Kota TALONS on my boat.  These shallow water anchors allowed me to fish water patiently and slowly during the day even with 20+ mph winds.  I can set these anchors down and just focus on fishing, not running ht trolling motor or loosing the spot that I am trying to fish.  They really are amazing and is something that you don't really believe until you have a chance to use them first hand.  Another big key was the smooth casting reels of QuantumPT provides. It was no problem to present baits in that heavy wind.  It was a good two days of fishing, and even though I ended up in 5th place for the tournament I am happy with the results.  I know the lake much better and fine tuned some baits for the near future.  The lake will see me once again very soon, and I hope I can better my 5th place finish next time.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

New Recipe: Bluegill Cakes

While reading the March edition of "The Iowa Sportsman" magazine I came across a recipe I have never seen or heard about (pg. 74).  Bluegill Cakes was the title of the recipe and it grabbed my attention right away.  I still remember and tell people about the time I traveled to Pennsylvania to visit my sister and her family.  Her husband took me out during this time for some "hand-made" crab cakes down at one of his favorite pubs.  WOW, fresh, hand made made crab cakes, I won't soon forget how those tasted.  To sum it up, fantastic!
I have always remembered those cakes and have tried several crab cakes here in Iowa, none are close to comparing.  This was one reason why this recipe probably grabbed my attention.  First, bluegills, which I love in a variety of ways and the word "cakes".

The Iowa Sportsman Magazine, March 2016

Here it is if you are looking for a different way to prepare your catch:

12 Bluegills, filleted out
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1 Egg- separate yolk from white
2/3 cup Milk
1 Tbsp butter, melted
Lemon or Tarter Sauce to flavor

A few notes about the process; I just placed the 24 fillets in a casserole dish after spraying with PAM and baked for about 25 minutes.  Flaking them is as simple as taking a fork and stirring the baked fillets into small pieces.  Try to drain or soak up unnecessary water from the fillets before you put them into the ingredient mixture.  Having the burner set a little above "medium" seemed to fry them the best.  Not much oil is need in the fry pan.  This made 7 cakes like you see in the picture, large enough for a couple really hungry people or 3 if there are other items to eat.
I hope you enjoy the recipe from "The Iowa Sportsman" magazine, each month they offer up wild game recipes, I've tried others and they have been good too, however this one is as close to Philadelphia Crab Cakes that I have ever tasted.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Spring Time = BIG Time

March and early April always mark the time of year I get "big bass" on the brain.  Spring is always
your best bet to catch your largest bass of the year.  I think there are several reasons for the phenomena, most likely that the big bass are hungry!  No matter the reasons the early fishing season has yielded me my largest bass the past few seasons.  This March was no different, I had a chance to fish on Good Friday with my friend Zach Maxfield.  We shared a trip early last year that produced Zach catching a fish over six pounds, and this year it was my turn at a heavy fish.  We traveled down to Rock Creek Lake, a short 25 minute drive to try to once again hook a March monster.
The lake did not disappoint.  We fished for about 3 hours, and I had 2 bites.  One was chunky 16 inch bass and the other was a March Monster.  It weighed in at 5 pounds 12 ounces.  The amazing thing about this fish was that it measured right at 21 inches, it was tall and fat!  A beautiful fish as you can see from the picture and it is still swimming to be caught again or to lay those thousands of eggs that she will have in another month or so.
It was typical spring fishing, throw some slow baits and mix in a jerkbait.  Zach threw a jerkbait quite often, but no takers.  I stayed with the Wig's Jig and plastic trailer from Hot Rod Baits form most of the trip, but the big girl fell for the Bruizer Big Daddy from Hot Rod Baits.  This is a large creature bait I rigged up Texas style, it measures almost 8 inches when the tails are swimming behind it.  I was using a heavy flippin' rod/reel from Quantum with 15 pound test line.  It's big, and that is what big ones want this time of year.
Enjoy the spring weather if you can, and remember go big this time of year for that giant!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

It's Spring...Boat time

Well, that was a quick switch...last Saturday on the ice at Clear
Lake, and this Saturday in the boat throwing jigs and chunks.  First bass of the season!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

All good things must come to an end

The 2015-16 ice fishing season for me has come and gone.  March 5th will mark my last day on the ice for the year.  Don Henry and I had to make a 2-hour trip north to get on some good ice, but it was well worth it.  Clear Lake was our destination, a place where Don had never been to but has been told stories of the possible fish catches if you visit the lake.
Clear Lake did not disappoint, and we were greeted with over a foot of nice solid ice in the "big lake".  We were able to use my snowmobile to get out and make the day easier for us.  We were able to try the Baptist area and Farmers Beach area.  Both areas that we tried yielded nice catches of Yellow Bass.  As Don soon found out, being mobile and getting your Vexilar down as many holes as possible is key to finding and catching these Yellow Bass.  Catching them is rarely a problem, but locating them and moving to keep locating them is the key to any adventure with Yellow Bass.  A huge key to both of our successes was using the Vexilar FLX-28 systems.  These have a 10 foot mode that allows you to use almost the entire flasher screen to see what is below the ice.  We stayed in 7 feet to almost ten feet of water throughout the day.
It was a fantastic day of fishing, and we were able to use small spoons all day long to catch fish, a technique I love to do while ice fishing.  A five-gallon bucket full of Yellow Bass was our reward for the day and they will taste wonderful in the near future.
Good bye ice fishing for now...although it was the shortest season for several year, it was still great to get outdoors and enjoy the sport of ice fishing through these cold winter months.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Latest TV filming

I had a chance to film a show for the local cable TV station McTV.  If you are a Mediacom subscriber you will be able to watch the show this week.  If not, it is also located on YouTube.  Although the fish didn't cooperate in the short amount of time we had, there a re few tips in locating panfish through the ice and using your Vexilar to find and catch them.  I hope you enjoy!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

One last time???

With February coming to a close, so is the ice fishing season.  Each year at this time I always wonder if today was the last time to ice fish this winter.  If it was, it was a fun day on the ice at Hickory Grove Lake.  As the ice season winds down it is vital to put safety first and foremost when stepping out on the ice.  Rope, ice picks and the buddy system are necessities this time of year.  Mark Anderson and Jacy Large were able to join me on the ice today.  We hit several areas and almost the entire lake was in pretty decent shape throughout most of the morning.  However, the 65+ degree weather ate the ice away under our feet.  By early afternoon we could see the ice changing color to the deep, dark blue color which only means that it was soaking up water and becoming weak.  We had to take our time and avoid those dark-colored ice areas.  Safety first, and we were able to enjoy a great day on the ice.
As for the fishing, it was typical Hickory Grove at its best.   The bluegills were numerous and of good keeper size.  The Vexilar FLX-28s were constantly on the move checking holes for active fish.  Between channel swings, flats and brushpiles we were able to have  a blast chasing fish all around the lake.  I was able to catch 6 different species of fish, which covers just about everything that swims at Hickory Grove; bluegill, white crappie, black crappie, green sunfish, largemouth bass, and a channel catfish.  The weather was perfect, almost hot at times as we enjoyed perhaps one of the last times on the ice for this winter.
Stay safe out there, and travel north if you are looking to extend your ice fishing season.  Use caution and the safety items mention previously, have fun and good luck!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Going...Going...Almost gone

February 20th brought a day of wonder for me.  Temperatures throughout the week were in the 30's and 40's at night and up towards 60 during a few days, to say the least Mother Nature was doing her best to melt the ice on the area lakes.  I am certainly NOT ready to call it quits on the 2015-16 ice fishing season, but ultimately it has to come to an end and this past weekend was definitely a wake-up call to many ice anglers.  Either way, the plan was to meet up at Hickory Grove Lake west of Marshalltown and see what the weather had done to the ice situation.  A couple friends from the Des Moines area were headed up as well to meet and catch some gills and crappies as the ice near the Metro and south is pretty unsafe.  I knew the ice was plenty thick and safe out on the lake, but this time of year it can be a real chore to get out onto the safe ice.  The ice nearest the shoreline becomes the weakest first and often breaks when runoff water collects near the shore.  Sure enough, this was the case on this small lake. With safety picks on, and safety ropes accounted for we hit the ice for a great day of fishing.

The temperature was very pleasant all day long, hanging around the 50 degree mark.  A sweatshirt and insulation bibs was all a person needed to keep warm.  We hopped around about half of the lake, and with no snow cover, walking was a breeze with the small amount of gear we each brought. During early and late ice if is important to keep your weight down and bring only what is necessary.  I had the K-Drill in tote, rod case and the Vexilar FLX-28 to keep things easy on this day.  We fished areas from 9 feet deep to almost 30 feet deep.  Fish seemed to be everywhere on this day but they were fast moving.  We picked off gills and a few scattered crappies most places we went.
Typically of late ice and run-off conditions, a few areas had no fish present.  It is important to look at water clarity this time of year when ice fishing.  Run-off into the lake from tiles or creeks will muddy up areas and fish can totally stop using that area and relocate to water with better clarity, making feeding much easier.
The weather was great, the company was equally good and the fishing made it a fantastic day on the ice.  The days are numbered here in Central Iowa, but heading north just 50-60 miles makes a huge difference this time of year, so if you are itching to get out there, trend lightly, have your safety gear and always take friends with you.  Be careful, and have fun on those last few days on the ice.  

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Yellow Bass Bonanza at Clear Lake

Well over 500 people at the dinner
banquet Saturday night
The Yellow Bass Bonanza has quickly grown to the most attended fishing event in the state of Iowa.  This year 255 teams participated, and even more would have but the event was full over a month ago.  This event is not only to create a great atmosphere for fans of fishing, but it also contributes to local charities and brings awareness to troubling species of the yellow bass.  Kevan Paul and his assistant Chris are the masterminds behind this event and all the details can be found on their website:  Kevan and Chris are guides in the area ( realize how fun the yellow bass are to catch, so why not plan an event to raise money for charities, promote the fishing in Clear Lake, Iowa and bring awareness to the species of fish that can harm smaller lakes in Iowa. 
Yellow bass are a fun fish to catch, they group up in schools and often you can one after another.  They are great fighters for their size and they taste great!  So what's not to love about Yellow Bass?  Yellow bass are an invasive species to Iowa Lakes.  They don't belong in them and can over populate a lake causing the Iowa DNR to spend millions of dollars reconstructing a lake.  To help control the population of these fish the DNR has no limit on how many you can keep.  For the most part on Clear Lake this has helped the lake to also provide great fishing for crappies and walleyes.  More information on the yellow bass can be found on the Iowa DNR site: Yellow Bass  This tournament brings together anglers from states all over the Midwest and gives me a chance to talk with anglers whom I seldom see.  It's a great social event with a relaxed atmosphere that anyone, no matter the skill level can enjoy and have a great time. 
On to the event, the week was a frigid one to say the least, making the ice great but putting the yellow bass in kind of a funk.  Temperatures for Sunday were topping out in the twenties but considering the wind chill the temps were well below zero.  This sent many anglers inside of the shacks for the day, my partner and I were able to stay warm and stay outside all day and be as mobile as we could to catch as many Yellows as possible.  The yellows seemed to moving very quickly this weekend.  Typically you can sit on a hole and catch numerous fish out of a school that is passing through.  This weekend was very different, a fish or two at a time was more the talk of the event.  Either way, a challenge was upon us, to catch 50 Yellows in 4 hours.  My partner, Jacy Large and I were up to the challenge.  We placed 5th last year in the event with about 12.50pounds, so our goal was 50 yellows and heavier weight.  We hopped around the lake numerous times, dropping our Vexilars down to see if any roaming Yellows were present.  It is some times necessary to move often with the yellow bass, and got our 50 yellows...with about 20 more extra.  We caught all of them on smaller spoons with waxworms, spike, or meat for bait.  We knew the Yellow Bass were a little bigger from last year and at weigh-in we were hoping for a better weight, we sure got it; 16.37#.  We were both delighted.  We waited while all the teams weighed in and we ended up in 15th place, a testimony of how big the Yellow Bass are in Clear Lake.  We were both very happy that we got in the top 25 once again and we beat our weigh from last year. 

I can't say enough about how well ran this event is, from the dinner banquet the night before to the weigh-in and prizes.  First-class all the way, if you have never fished Clear Lake for Yellow Bass, you still have time this winter, GET THERE!  As for next year, you can bet we will back to see if we can better our weight once again.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Team Extreme Tournament at Brushy Creek Lake

Brushy Creek Lake was the second and final stop on the 2016 Team Extreme Ice Fishing Circuit
 in Iowa.  Mark Anderson and I once again competed and put in a few days of practice to try and locate the good sized bluegills and crappies that we would need come weigh-in time.  Brushy Creek is probably the most unique lake in the state.  There is a lot of water deeper than 40 feet and the entire lake is pretty covered with standing trees.  Throw in some rock piles, steep banks and a river channel that swings in and out all throughout the lake.  To say the least, there are so many places to look and find fish it can be overwhelming.  With a couple hundred holes later and countless hours working with the Vexilar we were able to narrow things down.
We covered all the aforementioned areas and found a few that were holding fish.  We put the plan together for tournament day and we started off great.  A limit of eight crappies were caught fairly quickly included a couple around the 10-inch mark.  We were off to a good start.  We decided to head to our bluegill area and we managed a limit of eight bluegills, but the size wasn't what we were expecting.  We decided to run and gun for awhile and "quick-hit" some areas to hopefully find some eager biting fish.  This had some limited success and we did upgrade a few fish in the last couple hours of the event.  We ended up in 5th place for the day which was a disappointment, but we got through another tough event and

some lessons were learned, and really, that is what tournament fishing is all about.  

Monday, February 1, 2016

Weekend Fun

This past weekend was a break of some sorts for me during the busy ice fishing season.  A break during winter just means a chance to go fishing without all the seriousness of a bigger tournament or guide trip.  This past weekend started with the annual ISU Fishing Club sponsored tournament at Hickory Grove Lake.  I have fished this lake ever since moving to Central Iowa and I had so many great days on the ice there.  Saturday was no different as I partnered up with Mark Anderson once again to see how we could match up.  I have fished a few hours this winter at Hickory Grove and knew we would be able to catch some bluegills.  We set out to hit deep brushpiles and channel breaks in the first few hours and then try different areas throughout the lake. This task is pretty easy when one person is drilling the holes and your teammate is checking with the Vexilar FLX-28.  It was a good plan, but looking back we probably never should have left the first area we fished, but learning is part of the tournament experience.  We ended up in 5th place out of 17 teams, which wasn't what we were hoping for, but we were right in the mix and only 0.6 pounds out of 2nd place.  We caught bluegill after bluegill but just couldn't find the crappies which eventually won the tournament, as the winners had all crappies in their bag.  Something to work on in the future at Hickory Grove now that the crappie population has made a good comeback...I must locate them and get back to focusing on that species in this lake.  One pointer I can give any competitor that fished that day was a finesse technique that was responsible for most of the fish we weighed in.  Very small jigs and plastics or small live bait was the only way to keep getting bites as the day went on.  Something to remember for those bright days on the ice when the pressure is high.

 Sunday brought another beautiful day in Central Iowa, so it was time for my kids to hit the ice and try to help them catch some fish.  It didn't take us long at a local pond to locate the gills and crappies.  The kids just love using the Vexilars to see their jig and fish come up to it.  They are so simple that they caught on in minutes.  It was a fantastic day catching fish and playing on the ice.  They won't soon forget their time on the ice and catching fish.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Some times, it's the little things

Ice fishing is sport that has grown so rapidly that at times it is hard to keep up.  At times anglers get caught up in all the latest gear and fancy equipment when it's the little things that most often put fish on the ice.  I was reminded of this the other day on a quick trip to a local lake with good friend Chad Pietig.  We set off to fish Hickory Grove Lake after work for a few hours to see what we could find.  We loaded all of our gear onto my snowmobile and ice shack and headed to our first destination.  Pulled up to a brushpile...didn't even look at my GPS.  I cut a few holes and sure enough we were right on the brushpile.  We caught a few fish but the fish we were marking on the Vexilars were not in a good mood.  We packed up and hit another brushpile, much deeper than the first.  After dropping the Vexilars this time we noticed there was not many fish present here. We didn't stay long and went to the third brushpile.  Again, there was really no need to look at the GPS system as I have fished this brushpile for a decade or more.  This pile showed a lot of fish and they were quite active too.
So, what about the little things...yes now for the little things.  Sure, a snowmobile got us to the areas quickly, the Vexilars show us brushpiles and active fish or not, but when it came down to catching fish it was all about a small thing.  Jig color.  Chad was using two-tone colored jig which was getting more bites and attention than any jig I was showing the fish.  I tried numerous colors, white, pink, red, blue and black...but nothing compared to the "magic" jig that night.  That jig may never be the "magic" jig again on that lake, but a lesson I learned and a reminder to focus in on the little things while ice fishing will help me catch more fish in the future.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Big Creek Lake Tournament

This past weekend marked the first ice fishing tournament of the year for me.  For the third year in a row my partner Mark Anderson and I will be competing on the Team Extreme Ice Fishing trail.  This circuit was set to start the season at Okoboji in early January, but Mother Nature did not provide enough ice and it was canceled.  The next event is at Brushy Creek and the National tournament is in mid-March in Minnesota.
This weeks challenge was Big Creek Lake on the north side of Des Moines.  This is a large lake for Iowa, and has a lot of deeper water, brushpiles, drop-offs, and old river channels to keep anglers in search of panfish all year long.  The lake has a great population of bluegill, but in the past few years the crappies are hard to find.  We once again found this to be fact during practice time on the lake the past week.  Mark and I had fished the lake numerous days prior to the tournament and just couldn't find more than one or two crappies hanging together.  We knew it was going to be difficult to catch our goal of 8 crappies for the tournament but knew that we would have to catch some to win the event. On the other hand, bluegills was the other target for the day, we could weigh in 8 of those for our total of 16 fish.  Both of us found numerous brushpiles that were holding quality bluegills, we were very confident we could catch nice gills and fairly quickly too.
Tournament day began at 8am and we were off to look for crappies.  We tried several areas, deep trees, drop-offs, channel swings, and nothing, not a bite, not a fish.  We decided to get to some bluegill areas and gather in our 8 gills.  With our Vexilar FLX-28's in hand we proceeded to do this as we though, our first brushpile we visited we caught fish after fish and have 8 nice bluegills with most at or above the 9-inch mark.  We went to one other pile Mark added a couple more big gills, now we have all our gills at or above the 9-inch mark.  We were very satisfied with this and we started back to some crappie terrain.  We different areas, and repeated some areas of the morning search too, I ended up hooking one crappie and we ended the day with 8 great gills and 1 crappie, far short of our 8 and 8 goal.
A look at the quality of bluegills 
at Big Creek Lake
It was a great day of fishing, especially for bluegills but the Big Creek crappies haunted most teams this day.  We ended up in 3rd place for the event weighing in 4.87 pounds and a nice check for our troubles.  1st place had 6.92 pounds and had 5 crappies, a well-earned win.  In a few weeks we will back at it on Brushy Creek, another great lake in Central Iowa to chase bluegills and crappies.  Check out Team Extreme for a great tournament experience, their many sponsors make it well worth becoming a member and allows for great prizes at events.  They run a top-notch event and the cash payouts and sponsor prizes are second to none.  Check them out on the web, or drop me a email with any questions you have.  Team Extreme Ice Fishing Tournaments Results

Monday, January 11, 2016

The ICE is growing!!!

I had the chance to hit a couple local ponds this past weekend and I made every minute count.  With temperatures hovering around zero, and 25 mph northern winds pushing the real-feel temps to a chilly -20, it was a day not for the weak.  On days like this you really depend on your clothing to enjoy the day.  The average winter coat and bibs are not going to handle the type of weather we had that day.  There are many companies that make great outdoor gear, one that I have chosen for years is the Vexilar Cold-Snap Gear.  The Tundra Bibs and parka coat made it bearable to be out in the elements to search out fish and set up the shack to fish them.  Of course a good pair of boats is key on a day like this too.  While most people will say you get what you pay for, and I too believe that much of the time in life, however not with winter boots.  My $40 Mickey Boots, an Army surplus item that sells on eBay and any Military surplus store have never let me down.  They are 100% waterproof, and they are very warm.  If you are searching for Ice fishing gear to keep you warm, look up Vexilar Cold-Snap Gear and the Mickey boots to get you on the ice to catch fish under the most extreme temperatures.  Without them, I would have never even gone fishing!

On to the fishing... as mentioned a couple farm ponds were on the schedule for this day, as the bigger lakes in the region just aren't made for traveling quite yet for me.  The first pond we hit has multiple brushpiles in it and it didn't take long to find the active fish.  Being there while the sun was hitting the top of the trees sure helps this time of year to find active/feeding fish.  After locating the brush pile with several holes, I studied the readings the Vexilar was giving me in several holes.  I noticed that there were many more fish around, or outside of the brushpile than right in or on top of the pile.  This is often not the case, but for this day it certainly was.  We set up about 10 feet from the heart of the pile and enjoyed catching crappies and gills for several hours.  Multiple color of jigs and plastic baits were working (as long as they had a small profile), as well as spoons for the suspending crappies.  The bite started to fade around noon and we decided to warm up a bit and drive to the next pond.  This pond is absent of any cover, it is an old, featureless pond that doesn't have a large population of fish, but the fish you catch are on the large size.  We were hoping for the "foot-long" crappie or a 10-inch gill, but just fell short on both. We did come very close on several crappies that topped out around 11.5 inches.  Needless to say it was a great day of fishing, but without the right clothing and comfort of a shack to get out of the wind, I would have been stuck at home. 

~~~One last note, on a day where the weather was truly bone-chilling, the ease and power of an electric auger was certainly a treat.  No more pulling on gas engines to get them to start, all it takes is the pull of the trigger of a drill.  Electric drill augers keep impressing me, and that day was no different in that chilling cold air and wind.  I will try to cover more information on electric drills in another segment soon.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016 IOWA

This winter, to sum it up has been quite disappointing when it comes to ice fishing.  I cannot remember a time when I was not ice fishing in December in this great state of Iowa.  It was so bad that a few weeks ago a friend and I made a run to South Dakota just to fish for a day...yep borderline crazy but desperate times call for desperate measures.  This past weekend I was able to finally find some ice in Marshall County to help me scratch the itch a bit and give me a little hope to the rest of the ice fishing season.  The ice was by no means perfect, and out of 5 area ponds, we only actually dropped lines in two of them.  The ice varied greatly from one pond to another, something to keep in mind during this early ice fishing season.I know most people reading this are avid ice anglers but just a few tips to keep us ALL safe this ice fishing season.

The Iowa DNR recommends at least 4 inches of ice for ice anglers and at least 5 inches to support ATV's and snowmobiles. 

Each pond is unique and freezes at its own speed.  Shade, wind, runoff water, and precipitation all factor in to how fast a body of water will freeze. 
~ Never assume that just because someone is fishing a pond, that all ponds are ready to walk on.

Drill often, and measure every time, it's the only way to know for sure. 

ALWAYS take the proper safety gear with you when ice fishing.  These are include: ice picks (wear around your neck in case you fall in), long rope, flotation device and at least one friend. 

~ No ice is SAFE ice, always be cautious.

Enjoy my friends, and I hope to see you on the ice very soon!